Percocet Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment
Percocet is a combination medicine that contains oxycodone (an opioid painkiller) and acetaminophen (a pain reliever and fever reducer). It is only legally available with a prescription and is intended for short-term use, typically post-surgery or following an injury. Although Percocet is a commonly prescribed prescription drug and is generally safe when used medically, it produces effects that are similar to heroin and morphine and can cause dependence and addiction.
Percocet works by interacting with opioid receptors throughout the body to change the way the brain perceives pain. It also initiates dopamine release in the brain’s reward center, which produces feelings of pleasure and well-being. These pleasurable side effects often drive people to abuse Percocet, even if they initially used it for medical purposes.
Percocet comes in tablet form and can vary in color from pink or blue to yellow or off-white. It can also be formulated in a variety of dosages, but most often, it contains between 2.5 and 10 milligrams of oxycodone and 325 to 650 milligrams of acetaminophen.
The FDA has classified Percocet as a Schedule II drug, which means it has a high potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction.
The following terms are street names or slang for Percocet:
- Hillbilly heroin
People often abuse Percocet for the euphoric high it provides and because they mistakenly believe that it’s safer to abuse a prescription drug than an illegal drug like heroin. However, this is a common and dangerous practice.
Prescription drug abuse can be just as dangerous as using illegal substances, especially when it involves prescription opioids. Also known as narcotics, opioid drugs like Percocet carry a high risk of dependence and addiction due to the way they affect the brain and central nervous system.
Despite the risks, about 21 to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids for pain relief abuse them. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 3.7 million people misused oxycodone products like Percocet in the past year and a total of 11.1 million people misused any opioid painkiller. Amid an opioid crisis in the U.S., Percocet abuse and addiction is a serious and widespread problem.
Abusing Percocet on a long-term basis comes with serious side effects and can negatively impact your physical and psychological health. It can even be life-threatening and the risk of overdose is high. More than 130 Americans die of an opioid overdose every day and four to six percent of patients who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
Physical and psychological side effects of Percocet abuse may include:
- Shallow breathing
- Memory loss
- Constricted pupils
- Stomach pain, nausea, and/or vomiting
- Liver damage
- Loss of consciousness
It is also possible to overdose on Percocet if you take it more often than prescribed or crush, chew, snort, or inject it, which releases too much medication at once. Percocet overdose may also occur if you combine it with other depressants like alcohol or sleep aid medications like Lunesta or Sonata.
Symptoms of a Percocet overdose may include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Constricted pupils
- Clammy skin
- Severe drowsiness
If you previously suffered from a substance use disorder, you may have a higher risk of developing an addiction to Percocet. Additionally, people with other risk factors such as mental health problems, trauma, or early use of drugs and alcohol may also be more likely to abuse Percocet.
Percocet abuse may begin with the legitimate medical use of the drug but over time, it can slowly develop into misuse, dependence, and addiction if you’re not careful. If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription opioid addiction, there are typically some red flags and concerning behaviors to watch for.
Someone who is abusing Percocet may:
- Fake symptoms of pain to get a Percocet prescription
- See multiple doctors to get several Percocet prescriptions
- Steal Percocet from a clinic, pharmacy, or doctor’s office
- Frequently take pills
- Take larger or more frequent doses of Percocet than was directed by a doctor
- Crush, chew, snort, or inject Percocet
- Need larger doses of Percocet to feel its effects
If you are physically dependent or addicted to Percocet, you may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it. Percocet withdrawal symptoms often include:
- Percocet cravings
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Muscle aches
- Chills and hot flashes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
Opioid withdrawal can be very uncomfortable so it is best to detox under the direct supervision of a medical team and clinical specialists. A medically assisted detox program provides 24/7 care and medical treatment for uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Not only is medical detox more comfortable for you, but it’s also more effective and will drastically reduce your risk for relapse.
|5-8 hour after the last dose:||Percocet withdrawal symptoms generally begin to appear.|
|8-16 hours after the last dose:||Early withdrawal symptoms may include cravings, anxiety, and insomnia. You may also experience cold and flu-like symptoms such as sweating, aches and pains, watery nose and eyes, goosebumps, and chills.|
|2-3 days after the last dose:||Percocet withdrawal symptoms peak around this time and you may still be experiencing flu-like symptoms in addition to severe aches and pains, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, insomnia, and cravings.|
|7-10 days after the last dose:||Most Percocet withdrawal symptoms should resolve after about a week, although some psychological issues like anxiety and cravings may persist if left untreated.|
Once you’ve completed Percocet detox and withdrawal, you may want to continue your addiction treatment. Doing so can help you work through relenting feelings of anxiety, depression, and cravings related to your previous substance abuse. Continued treatment can also work to address the root causes of your addictive behaviors and give you the tools you need to continue living sober.
Many people choose to continue their addiction treatment with a drug rehab program that lasts 30, 60, or 90 days. There’s no perfect answer for how long drug rehab should last, but the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has concluded that addiction treatment that lasts 90 days or longer will provide more positive treatment results and a greater chance of sustained sobriety. Generally, 90-day drug rehab programs are ideal for people with severe or long-lasting addictions.
During drug rehab, clients work with other peers in recovery to achieve the following objectives:
- Learn more about the disease of addiction
- Work through the 12-step program (or similar recovery program such as SMART Recovery)
- Learn about relapse prevention and implement relapse prevention strategies
- Identify triggers, cravings, and high-risk situations and learn how to self-monitor and cope
- Gain life skills
- Practice living sober and develop a sober routine
If you decide to enroll in a drug rehab program after detox, you have a few options. The most common choices for addiction treatment are inpatient drug rehab and outpatient drug rehab. But what’s the difference between the two?
In residential rehab, you can expect to:
In outpatient rehab, you can expect to:
When choosing between inpatient and outpatient rehab, it’s wise to consider certain factors like the location, the treatment services, your insurance coverage, the facility’s amenities, and most importantly, your treatment needs. Neither residential drug rehab or outpatient drug rehab is better than the other, but one may be more suited to your individual treatment needs.
The cost of a drug rehab program will vary, depending on the type of program it is. You may also have access to other payment options such as:
- Health insurance benefits
- Addiction treatment scholarships
- HSA funds
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits
- Financed healthcare loans
- Private loans from loved ones
- Credit cards
After rehab, you can also receive continued support in your recovery with a sober living program and/or aftercare program. These programs are designed to help people who are recovering from substance abuse problems by providing peer support and social services, like employment assistance and educational planning.
Sober Living Programs
A sober living program is a type of continued care program that provides safe, sober group housing for men and women in addiction recovery. Traditionally called “sober living houses,” terms like ¾ house, halfway house, or transitional home may also be used interchangeably in some states.
Sober living residents are allowed to continue living at the group home for as long as they need, pending adherence to the rules and standards of their sober community. Sober living homes may also provide regular drug and alcohol testing to ensure that the living environment remains sober and safe for all residents.
A sober living program may also provide additional recovery support services such as:
- Tiered recovery programming for all residents
- Peer-led recovery support programs
- Education and employment assistance
- Volunteer assistance
The cost of a sober living home will vary depending on its location, amenities, recovery support services, and staffing. Payment is often collected at the end of each month, much like a rent payment would be.
Aftercare programs are another option for continued care after drug rehab. These programs are designed to support rehab alumni as they transition back into society and begin living independent, sober lives.
Aftercare groups meet once a week at a safe, clinical location. Group sessions are co-ed and are designed to be a safe space where clients can talk about recovery-related issues such as coping with triggers or cravings, building healthy relationships, or managing depression or anxiety in recovery. Aftercare is also a great place to check in with sober peers, share successes in sobriety, and encourage one another.
If you or a loved one is struggling with Percocet addiction or abuse, you are not alone. There is help for you and you can get sober. Call Nova Recovery Center today to learn more about our addiction treatment services and aftercare programs. We want to help you overcome your addiction and learn how to live a fulfilling life in recovery.
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- Evidenced-based treatment
- 12-Step immersion
- 90-day residential treatment
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- Full continuum of care
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